Why Netflix’s Selena Series Wanted To Separate Itself From The Jennifer Lopez Movie

selena the series netflix show

The late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla is getting her story retold for a new generation of viewers. Two years after it was announced, Selena: The Series is finally available to stream on Netflix. For those who may have already seen 1997’s Selena starring Jennifer Lopez, the Netflix series may not look all that different at first glance. However, showrunner Moises Zamora recently explained why he wanted to distinguish Selena: The Series from the film.

Selena Quintanilla’s life was tragically cut short in 1995 when she was killed by Yolanda Saldívar, the late singer’s fan club president and boutique manager. The Jennifer Lopez film covered various aspects of Selena’s life — as a child singing in her family’s band to a Grammy-winning artist. However, Moises Zamora reveals there was a conscious attempt to separate Selena: The Series from the 90s movie. Here’s what he told Deadline:

I think there was a specific effort. We all loved the movie, that’s the thing. We separated ourselves because the approach was a little different. We were spending more time in her early years. We call it the “caterpillar time of her life.” Where her hair is awkward, the outfits were not entirely there but they’re really fun. She’s getting to know who she is and we see the struggles the family is facing. The way we were handling the story, the way we were working with the family, the inspirational angle, and light-heartedness was going to separate us a lot from the movie. We’re just exploring them a lot more.

That is definitely a change from the Selena film, which also covered her life as a child, but didn’t focus too much on it before moving on to her later years. That makes sense considering the film was only about two hours long and there’s only so much of Selena’s story that can be told in that timeframe.

Such is not the case with Selena: The Series, which consists of nine episodes and has the opportunity (and the time) to expand upon moments or milestones from Selena’s youth. Here’s how Moises Zamora put it:

We live in these early years a lot longer and as she becomes an independent woman, she’s empowered to make her choices, and I think you see that especially as she falls in love with Chris [Perez]. As we all know, that’s how that works out. And the following episode, she fully takes in the reigns of who she wants to be and how she wants to present herself to the world, as this emergent superstar.

Moises Zamora added that the first half of Selena: The Series was really a family drama because the late singer’s family played such an important role in her life and in helping shape her career. However, because of the series’ episodic nature, Selena developing into her own person is further explored in later episodes of Season 1.

Selena: The Series is currently available to stream on Netflix. For more on what to watch in the coming months, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring TV premiere guide.

Mae Abdulbaki